Las Vegas, NV—Speaking from SupplySide West, here, the day after the election, Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association, predicted how the results could affect the industry in the near term.
He said before the elections, "big deals" for the industry were GMPs, NDIs and the legislative process. Given that President Barack Obama will remain in office for another four years, he doesn't feel like those priorities will shift much. "We should expect that we'll continue to have an activitst Food and Drug Administration and a very assertive Federal Trade Commission," stated McGuffin.
|Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association|
He said some industry members thought that if Governor Mitt Romney had won the presidency, it would shake up FDA's management, possibly even result in the firing of Daniel Fabricant. "It's questionable whether that was ever going to happen, but now now we know it's not going to happen," he stated. He predicts the management at FDA isn't going to change.
As for Congress, he says there's little change there either. There are slightly more Democratic seats in the Senate, but the Democrats were the majority there before. Democrats picked up a few more seats in the House, but that's still under Republican control. In the past few years, he says the split Congress had trouble getting anything done and he predicts we'll see that trend continue. "That's good for us in some regards," he said. Legislation that could harm the industry probably wouldn't pass. "Dick Durbin was not successful last year in trying to promulgate a new bill that would more tightly control the dietary supplements industry." That was defeated in the Senate.
But the flip side is that if we see any legislation come through that we'd like to pass, it probably wouldn't either.
McGuffin added that there are 12 new Senators. "We need to get to know them," he stated. "It really helps your business to reach out to your congressional representatives." And, if you don't already, make it your business to know any representatives that continue to hold their seats.
Of course, Proposition 37 in California (which would have mandated the labeling of genetically engineered substances) failed. This divided industry, with people passionate on either side. "We all need to get together and find a consensus position that's not exactly what either side wanted. The only other option is to fight this out state by state…it's not a good use of resources for us to continue to battle on this issue."
He closed by saying, "In a sense, we're in the exact same place as we were before the election. The priorities are the same."
Published in WholeFoods Magazine Online, 11/8/12